Kid Safety

Smaller rockhounds need scaled-down equipment.

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by Ellery Borow, AFMS Safety Chair

Kid safety? Isn’t kid safety the same as adult safety? Well, yes it is, more or less, and that is the crux of the matter—the “less” part, that is. Kids are generally less—less experienced in matters of safety, less tall, less heavy. They have smaller hands and, overall, have smaller proportions than adults. There are thus, some safety considerations when it comes to kid safety.

  1. Some safety goggles are made of hard plastic or rubber. They do not easily conform to kids’ smaller faces. Solution: Try using softer vinyl-framed goggles, which are flexible enough to properly fit kids’ faces. Goggles with elastic headbands can easily be adjusted to fit kids. If one is using safety glasses with side shields, make sure the temples are sized to fit. It would be uncomfortable to have safety glasses keep sliding down the nose every time you looked downward—and let’s face it, looking downward is a large part of rock, mineral and fossil collecting.
  2. Heavy-duty work gloves in large, and sometimes medium, size are easily found in most stores. Kid-size heavy-duty work gloves, however, are not so easily found. Solution: Look for ladies’ size small heavy-duty gloves.
  3. Hard hats for kids? I have sometimes seen play hard hats, but never have I seen downscaled hard hats that meet all the various ANSI or OSHA specifications. Solution: Check out the adjustability of the headband and suspension system. Some are more adjustable than others. Seek one that can be adjusted to fit smaller heads. The benefit is that a good hard hat can be adjusted to fit as the child grows.
  4. Steel-toe work shoes in smaller sizes? There again, in some specialty work clothes establishments, one can find safety-toe work boots that fit smaller, lady-size feet. The problem there is often finding the correct width, but with a little luck, one might be successful in finding a safety shoe that fits. As fast as kids grow, it will be quite a trick to keep kids in proper safety footwear. The best one can hope for is to provide good, sturdy work boots. Oh, there are steel- and safety-toe sneakers, so there may be some suitable offerings there, as well.
  5. Kid appropriate tools? Sure, kids love to hammer on things. Can one find kid-appropriate rock collecting tools? Solution: I have found none specifically made for kids, but what I have seen are what I call “travel tools”, smaller, less heavy rock picks, crack hammers, and chisels. Why does a kid need smaller tools? Well, smaller tools are more easily controlled in a kid’s smaller, less strong, and less coordinated hands. Mind that any use of tools should be suitably adult supervised.

In addition, safety and first-aid kits should have kid-size bandages packed in with all the adult-size bandages. We like protecting our kids from harm. Large, dangerous working mines, quarries, pits, and other hazardous commercial operations often limit kids’ entry. Insurance and liability requirements in operating facilities often dictate that no one under 18 is permitted on site.

Common sense should reign in other collecting sites. In general, safety requirements are similar for kids and adults: staying hydrated, minding site-specific rules and regulations, wearing safety goggles, and so on. The trick with kid safety—the one thing that makes it easier for adults—is this simple guideline: Kids use adults as role models. If kids see their parents wearing goggles, they will want to, as well, because it’s the adult thing to do. If kids see their parents using gloves, they will want to, as well. Kids learn from us, so if we adults set a good example, our work in keeping kids safe is made much easier. The bonus with that approach is that we say safe, too (for our kids’ sake).

Please be safe out there, whether you are a kid, an adult, or a kidlike adult!